Now, its no more secret that Naira Marley made a joke of himself while the world was watching and before the unforgiving mob of the social media era, where statements like his are hacked down with chainsaws of fury.
What they're unrepentantly doing is helping a form of cancer metastasize while the cure continues to be lost to a future generation that looks destined to get sucked into its belly like a raging vortex.
It was a shameful spectacle, watching some of our favourite celebrities wallow in what seems like a need to not kill the supply chain of money. They deserve everything they get.
The complex relationship between music and crime
The greatest bed of careless spending has always been crime or at least, illegally obtained wealth. In fact, hard-earned money seldom gets spent like money off illegality - it is always subject to heavy rush that never seems like ending.
Do you doubt this? Even though there is an analogical disconnect with a greater crime, do you remember how you used to spend the thousands you obtained through carefully concocted lies from your parents? They never last, right?
Yes, that's how money feels in the hands of large scale fraudsters, drug dealers and men of the underworld who afford balogun trowey lifestyles through their ways. It's a worldwide phenomenon.
Your average Nigerian celebrity is friends with a criminal. That's one way he can command six figures in dollar bills for shows and sell VIP tables at his concerts and shows for millions which most people with legally-earned money would be reluctant to spend.
Make no mistake, this is a human thing
Everyone wants to make money. While survival is a basic instinct, wealth is chief of all vanities which everyone craves.
Thus, while artists are getting the boot by the grand jury of public opinion, it's so sad that most people criticizing celebrities might be in the artists’ shoes if they were those celebrities.
The position of celebrities, as the high and mighty to destroy where they eat is then precarious.
While we might peg it down to vanity, we might remember that as section of Twitter NG questioned Banky W for a whole weekend on why he drove a 2008 Range Rover that cost about $100k dollars when it dropped. The pressure on celebrities to live and behave a certain way is immense.
In this, there is a small problem of systemic hypocrisy, in which celebrities are perpetrators and could be victims when they don't seem to live at the standard ‘fans’ expect of them.
While the way they are protecting the bag is brazen and amounts to 'double jeopardy,' where they stand, they are damned if they try to protect the bag and damned if they live respectably.
When we look inwardly, we all have it in our lives in the form of 'loyalty,' from Civil Servants to Lawyers to Journalists. Nearly everyone has a tendency to protect their bag of illegally earned money.
Prosperity is a basic need of any human being, it's why staunch political critics go silent when they start getting paid by the machinery they once criticized.
Make no mistake, we're all prone to this. So maybe, this is time for us all to evaluate our priorities and gauge our reaction when we're in a position to lose money 'for the greater good.'
Most people won't lose money for the greater good because selfishness is almost fundamental to human nature. Some of what artists have been criticized for is a human thing, not necessarily an ‘artist thing,’ as we all want to believe.
Thus, this is a time for individual evaluation, not much a time for critique and social media outrage. Ask yourself, 'what would I do, if I were in their shoes?'
Then you can be sure of where you stand and whether you are entitled to the outrage you have been rolling with.
Its a simple case of selfishness and bias
The worst part is that music and business across the world have always benefited from or enjoyed mutual inclusivity with crime.
Nigerian record labels of old were funded with drug money. The high-brow parties of old were funded and sponsored by criminals and '419' were regularly hailed in music by a lot of our legends. Nigerian legends like Shina Peters used to hail drug dealers and popular ‘419’ stalwarts.
As Noble Igwe noted in 2018, nightlife is mostly funded with illegally obtained money. In fact, some of our parents are embezzling money at different scales of their lives and funding our comfortable lives with such proceeds. Yet, some of those people criticize effortlessly.
Crime is an inbred fabric of the Nigerian society, it just comes at different levels and on different scales. It seems the only problem with the artists is that they can brag about it, and I also agree, that is a huge problem
While this might look like a situation of 'benefit from crime, as long as its silent, it’s not,' but public and unrepentant support for crime definitely worsens the situation because then, you are now actively fishing for public validation for wrongness as an ideal culture.
What then is the solution?
As outgoing NiRA President, Reverend Sunday Folayan told Pulse in March, there is no one sure way to stop crime other than force our government to start acting right, so young men won't see crime as a necessary way of life and reduce crime to a minimum.
The reality though is, crime is never going away.
That said, the projections and expectations of ‘celebrity status’ by the average fan must reduce.
Twenty years ago, drugs, misogyny and gang violence were the litmus test for content deemed 'real Hip-Hop.' Now, the same Hip-hop is chastising trap kids for excessive drug appreciation in music - It's growth and the power of constant conversation; we can’t stop criticizing crime.
More importantly, this is a time to decide where we belong on the issue of money and loyalty. This is not for Twitter discussion, but for the dark of our rooms where our convictions are forged.
This is not about just criticizing artists, but making sure we would not be like the artists when money or the threat of a lack of it thereof becomes an issue when the proverbial hand that feeds is bitten.
Most importantly, this is a time to self-evaluate and ensure we're not continuing the gyre of systemic hypocrisy.